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AWADmail Issue 160

April 10, 2005

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages


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From: Sharon Letts (lettsgardenATyahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--halcyon

I've always been fascinated with the way marketing groups similarly use words to name products - for instance, the word halcyon - which is a wonderful word in its connotations, is used by a pharmaceutical company, with a slight variation, "halcion" for a sleep inducing medication.

Much in the same way automobile marketing groups name cars - giving us a psychological reason to buy.


From: Andrew Knight (a.knightATimperial.ac.uk)
Subject: Halcyon

The word Halcyon is also an old word for what we now call an anticyclone, i.e. a slow moving weather feature with high air pressure and little or no wind, usually giving balmy weather, although in the winter it can mean heavy frost. It is presumably a back-formation to explain halcyon days.


From: Vernita Tertullien (vernita.tertullienATpb.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--halcyon

Ah ha, I am now enlightened. Thank you. I often wondered why so many hotels and resorts in the Caribbean (and other tropics) carry the name Halcyon.


From: Nils Pearson (pegnilsATcenturytel.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cyclopean

The description of the mythological race of Cyclops who forged thunderbolts for Zeus in return for their freedom; reminds me of the modern day weapons makers who forge weaponry at the cost of our freedom, while we turn a blind eye.


From: Wal Pettersson (travelwalATinterworx.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cerberus

H.M.A.S.Cerberus is the training recruit station for the Aussie navy. The name is from an old colonial gunboat. And, as out anthem states "our home is girt by sea" so a many-ocean water defence force is wanted.


From: Hope Bucher (hope-bucherATwebtv.net)
Subject: Cerberus

It was interesting to discover that J.K. Rowling introduced the mythical creature, Cerberus, to a generation of young readers in "Harry Potter". Fluffy, Hagrid's monstrous dog with three heads, is guardian of the Sorcerer's Stone.


From: Yosef Bar-On (jobaronATgalon.org.il)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dragon's teeth

Dragon's teeth is also the term used by armies for cement or iron pyramids placed on roads and paths to block access by military vehicles and tanks.


From: Hugh Malcolm (hmATisd.canberra.edu.au)
Subject: Mythical creatures

It has fascinated me since first visiting China that Europe and China share two major mythical creatures: dragons and phoenixes. They're even more prominent in Chinese mythology than they are in the West. I've never taken the time to see if anyone has come up with an explanation for why they are so similar in the two cultures and how far back they go in each.


A word in a dictionary is very much like a car in a mammoth motorshow - full of potential, but temporarily inactive. -Anthony Burgess, author (1917-1993)

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